PRICEVILLE, Ala. (AP) - A man shot and killed his estranged
wife, their teenage daughter and two other relatives in rural north
Alabama before returning to his home in a nearby town and killing
himself the day before their divorce trial, authorities said
Travis Clemmons, chief investigator for the Lauderdale County
sheriff's office, said Kevin Garner's body was found Tuesday
afternoon near his home in Priceville, which burned to the ground
overnight. He said Garner apparently shot himself in the chest.
Earlier in the day, authorities had found the other four bodies
in a home in Green Hill, a small community near the Tennessee line
in a nearby county. Those bodies were identified as Garner's
estranged wife, Tammy, 40; their 16-year-old daughter, Chelsie; and
Garner's sister and the sister's 11-year-old son, Clemmons said. He
identified the sister as Karen Beaty of Illinois but did not have
other information about her and the slain boy.
He said the four were shot, apparently with a handgun.
Investigators said the killings happened around midnight Monday.
It was one of eight mass shootings around the country in the
last month that have left grief-stricken communities in shock. It's
also the third mass killing in Alabama during that time.
Clemmons said a neighbor came across the street to the house
Tuesday morning to visit but called authorities after seeing a body
through glass in the door.
Clemmons said the divorce case appeared to be among the triggers
of the violence.
"It wasn't just one particular thing, just everything happening
at once," he said.
Court officials said the Garners had made an appearance in court
Monday in advance of the trial, and nothing seemed unusual or
indicated it would lead to killings.
"I just can't understand it," said Clemmons, "and with with a
16-year-old and an 11-year-old kid, there's nothing rational about
Jerry Knight, an attorney who represented Kevin Garner in the
divorce case, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that Garner
"had a terrific work ethic and value system. I was terribly
shocked and saddened by this unexpected tragedy."
Kevin Garner had worked at a Decatur chemical plant and Tammy
Garner had been employed at a Huntsville department store.
In the divorce file, Tammy Garner sought custody of their
daughter and alleged that her husband "has been both physically
and emotionally abusive." He accused her of adultery.
He also accused his wife of taking $38,000 out of their joint
bank account when they separated May 27, 2008.
Along with Garner's two-story house, which collapsed in the
fire, a green Subaru Legacy belonging to Garner's wife was found
burned in the Morgan County community of Somerville, less than 10
miles from the burned house.
The five deaths follow the stabbing deaths of four people in a
home in Hueytown, near Birmingham, on March 7, and the shooting
deaths of 10 people on March 10 by a gunman in south Alabama who
also took his own life.